Feb 16 2014
After two days of birding in northern Minnesota I’ve seen seven Life Birds. This species is one of them.
I’ve tried to find boreal chickadees in Maine in September and come up empty, perhaps because the weather was too pleasant. In Minnesota in the depths of winter they come to the peanut butter feeders at Sax Zim Bog. Life bird at last!
This is one bird you must visit at his home if you want to see him. Boreal chickadees (Poecile hudsonicus) never migrate so you won’t see one passing through in spring or fall. They live exclusively in the “spruce moose” forest where they survive the winter by stashing food at every opportunity.
It’s a harsh landscape in winter. As I have learned from personal experience, a typical birding day may yield only 10 species. The only boreal species I’m missing, and probably won’t see on this trip, is the great gray owl.
Sandy Komito, record holder of the North American Big Year since 1998(*), spoke at the Sax Zim Bog Festival on Friday night. What bird did he miss in northern Minnesota during his Big Year? Great gray owl. So I don’t feel so bad.
To make up for it, I saw a moose.
(photo by Jessica Botzan)
(*) Last December (2013) Neil Hayward beat Sandy Komito’s record by one bird. His record is not official until the local states’ records committees pass judgment on three first ABA records. Click here for a photo of them together.